karl_lembke (karl_lembke) wrote,

Stem cells

Guardian Watch has some comments on the recent veto on funding for embryonic stem cell research.
There's no good, scientific reason the government should fund embryonic stem cell research (not to mention most other things), and many reasons not to do so.

The first reaction of Democrats and Liberals is to call the veto a "ban" on stem cell research, thinking to make it a campaign issue as they tried to do in 2004. That's two lies for the price of one. No research has been banned by Bush's veto on appropriating Federal funds for it. In fact, the Bush administration is the first to fund embryonic stem cell research at all, a fact those on the Left are disinclined to mention. In addition, there are other forms of stem cell research for which government funding has not been blocked.

The private sector (in which research and development used to take place) and state governments are free to fund ESC projects as much as they like. California, for instance, has appropriated three billion dollars for that purpose. Complaints about having to depend on private funding for ESC research only highlight the fact that years of such research have shown few positive results, and produced some spectacular failures. Embryonic stem cells introduced into laboratory mice are routinely rejected by the subject's immune system, and often result in teratomas – Greek for "monster tumor" – as the stem cells form all kinds of tissues unrelated to the surrounding tissue.

Meanwhile, research on adult stem cells found in bone marrow, the pancreas, the spleen, hair follicles and fat cells have all produced actual, measurable results. Stem cells taken from the placenta (afterbirth) and umbilical cord after live births show at least as much promise as cells from dead embryos. Dr. Mariusz Ratajczak of the University of Kentucky has directed adult bone marrow stem cells to change into brain, nerve, heart and pancreatic cells. In 2004, Dr. Dennis Turner testified before Congress that symptoms of his Parkinson's disease virtually vanished for four years after treatment with stem cells from his own brain. This research mimics all the supposedly miraculous properties of ESCs while overcoming the rejection issue.

And read the rest of it.
Tags: politics

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